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Loan company claims same street address as Better Business Bureau's Fargo office

The Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) is warning consumers and businesses to be wary of an advance fee loan company calling itself Fraser Brokerage, which claims a Fargo address. The address the company is claiming - 51 Broadway - is the same as the BBB's Fargo office. After a quick check of the building and its listed tenants, the BBB has determined the company is not at this address and the suite number they provided does not exist.

"Most offers like this require a little legwork to look into," said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of the BBB. "However, in this case, a quick elevator ride was all we needed to do to confirm the company was not where they said they were, a clear indication they are not a legitimate organization." A BBB representative who contacted the company at their listed number in an attempt to verify their address was hung up on.

A consumer contacted the BBB on Wednesday to say Fraser Brokerage had offered them a $5,000 loan, but first the consumer would have to make four payments of $147 upfront, a hallmark of an advance fee loan scam. Many companies advertise easy loans online at favorable rates, and then seek payments from consumers in advance to secure these alleged loans. Unfortunately, these loan offers are not legitimate and are targeted at customers and companies who are struggling with debt and poor credit, often making bad situations worse.

Advance Fee loan offers have been around for a long time and seem to surge when money and credit are tight. Offers of this nature are usually found online, in the classified sections of newspapers and magazines, or else potential victims are contacted directly via phone or email. Often with very little or no background check at all, customers are told they qualify for loans. After filling out all necessary paperwork, they are then asked to pay an upfront fee of anywhere from $300 to $3,000. The fee is either paid by wire transfer, often to locations outside the U.S., or debited directly out of the consumer's checking account. It is the experience of the Better Business Bureau that customers who pay these upfront fees never receive their loans. Generally, once the requested fees are paid the companies making the offers cease contact or their phone numbers are eventually disconnected.

In the case of the consumer who contacted the BBB regarding Fraser Brokerage, they reported company representatives asked them to go to a Walmart and purchase a MoneyPak, which is a means of transferring money quickly and easily. The BBB advises consumers not to send money in this fashion to anyone they don't know.

The BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota has not received any complaints against Fraser Brokerage, but have awarded the company a rating of "F" due to their nature of business.

To avoid falling victim to advance fee loan offers, the BBB advises the following:

· If you're asked to pay a fee upfront or wire funds to receive your loan, the offer is not legitimate. According to the Federal Trade Commission, it's illegal for companies doing business by phone in the U.S. to promise you a loan and ask you to pay for it before they deliver. Requiring advance fees for loans is also illegal in Canada.

· Be especially leery of websites that provide no contact information and promise fast, easy loans to all who apply - regardless of credit.

· Be sure to check the company's reliability report with the Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.org .

· Remember, the Internet is full of bogus offers. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

The mission of the Better Business Bureau is to promote through self-regulation, the highest standards of business ethics and conduct, and to instill public confidence in responsible businesses through programs of education and action that inform, protect and assist the public. Contact the BBB at www.thefirstbbb.org or 651-699-1111, toll-free at 1-800-646-6222.

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